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8 Community forestry in Cambodia - Ly Chou Beang[8] and Lao Sethaphal[9]


ABSTRACT

Community forest means an area of state forest subject to an agreement to manage and utilize the forest in a sustainable manner between the cantonment of the Forest Administration and local communities or an organized group of people. Community forestry is initiated and promoted mainly by the various international NGOs and donor agencies, national NGOs, civil society, and later by the Royal Government of Cambodia. The various laws and decrees governing community forestry such as the National Forest Policy Statement (2002), Land Law (2001), Commune Administration Law (2001), Forestry Law (2002), Law on Protected Areas (Draft), Sub-decree on Concession Management Plan (2000), and Community Forestry Sub-decree (Draft), contain conflicting statements. Although the total area managed by community forestry is 55 568 ha, the number of stakeholders and initiatives is 150; thus each covers a relatively small area. With different line agencies involved, the main responsibility is with the Department of Forestry and Wildlife (DFW). Community forestry only exists at the local level in pilot provinces, mainly linked to projects, with very limited capacity (expertise/knowledge), high inputs by NGOs, being not integrated with other sectors (such as agriculture), importance insufficiently reflected in institutional set-up, and limited extension-research linkages. Current emphasis deals with highly degraded forests which are rehabilitation oriented, use of NTFPs for livelihood improvement, commercial use of timber not yet considered, increasing number of integrated approaches such as the community-based natural resources management (CBNRM), limited benefit sharing arrangements, and good integration into local structures.

INTRODUCTION

The Kingdom of Cambodia is one of the smallest countries in Southeast Asia, located in the southwestern part of the Indochina peninsula. The Kingdom lies between 10°-15°N and 102°-108°E. Cambodia shares borders with Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. The area of Cambodia is approximately 181 035 km2. In 1998, the population was approximately 11 million, 85 percent of whom lived in rural areas. The annual growth rate is approximately 2.6 percent. The population is concentrated in the central plain where there is a density of approximately 318 people per km2. On the coastal region, the average population density is 60 persons per km2; in the highlands, the population density is lowest approximately 1 person per km2.

Cambodia is rich in natural resources, especially forest resources. Forest resources are one of the most important natural resources for national socio-economic development. Before 1970, a forest inventory implemented by the Forest Research and Education Institute (FREI) reported that the forest cover was 13 227 100 ha or 73 percent of the total territory (Table 1).

Table 1. Forest cover before 1970

Forest classification

Area (ha)

Dense moist evergreen forest

3 955 300

Dense semi-evergreen forest

2 504 000

Dwarf evergreen forest

288 700

Dry deciduous forest

5 296 700

Mangrove forest

38 300

Rear mangrove forest

57 500

Bamboo

387 400

Flooded forest

681 400

Pine forest

17 800

Total

13 227 100

Over the last 30 years, few forest inventories have been conducted in Cambodia. From 1993 to 1998, the rate of deforestation escalated to approximately 2 million ha per year-the highest rate of deforestation ever recorded in Cambodia’s history. According to the interpretation of LANSAT satellite imagery (1996/97-UNDP/ FAO), the forest cover of Cambodia is now estimated to be approximately 58 percent (Table 2).

Table 2. Forest cover 1996/97

Forest classification

Area (ha)

Evergreen forest

3 986 719

Mixed forest

1 505 326

Deciduous forest

4 281 397

Forest regrowth

374 197

Flooded forest

335 307

Mangrove forest

72 835

Bamboo

33 370

Forest plantation

82 425

Total

10 671 576

Figure 1. Forest cover in Cambodia

Main causes of deforestation

The principal direct causes of deforestation in Cambodia are extensive commercial forest exploitation and agriculture expansion. Inappropriate resource use, uncertain resource tenure and rapid population growth also contribute to the destruction of forest resources. Economic, social, and political forces, manifested in policy failures such as poor land-use planning, population pressure and poverty drive these factors.

Why community forestry?

At present, rural people need forest resources to maintain and improve their living standards and to meet their cultural needs. The Department of Forestry and Wildlife (DFW) has responsibility for forest management and recognizes the importance of working with communities to meet the needs of rural Cambodians and to achieve sustainable management of forest resources.

HISTORY OF COMMUNITY FORESTRY

Traditional/customary uses of forest resources have been practised for decades in Cambodia especially by the hill tribes in the uplands (e.g. Ratanakiri, Mondulkiri and Stung Treng provinces). Community forestry initiatives have been made by international NGOs (Mennonite Central Committee [MCC], Concern Worldwide, FAO) in collaboration with the Department of Forestry and Wildlife (DFW) since 1990 in a few provinces such as Takeo, K Chhnang, Pursat and Siem Reap Provinces.

The Community Forestry Network Meeting was established by the Cambodia Environment Management Project (CEMP) in 1996 and involves government institutions for the purpose of exchange and sharing information and experiences in community forestry practice. Since 1996, the Community Forestry Sub-decree (CFSD) has been drafted by the Department of Forestry and Wildlife and submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fishery (MAFF) and Council Minister, but it was rejected to be revised. This was done by a working group, in consultation with all relevant institutions and organizations, and the local communities. This draft CFSD was then resubmitted to the MAFF and Council Minister for approval. The Community Forestry Working Group was initiated by the Sustainable Management of Resources in the Lower Mekong Basin Project (SMRP-MRC/GTZ) in 1998 to facilitate the implementation of various activities, and to assist in the policy and technical development to ensure that CF implementation has legal support in the field and also to exchange information among stakeholders. The National Community Forestry Strategic Plan and Community Forestry Guidelines have been elaborated by the members of the Community Forestry Working Group since 2000 and have received funding from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). An interinstitutional training team, the Cambodia Community Forestry Training Team (CAMCOFTT), was established in 1998, and involved the Ministry of Environment, MAFF, Royal University of Agriculture and Concern Worldwide to train community forestry practitioners and government staff. It ceased operation in 2001. Since 2002, JICA has supported a Capacity Building Forestry Centre, using community forestry concepts as important criteria for building awareness to the key staff at the provincial level. By August, two out of the three courses planned for 2003 have been conducted.

Community forest management planning has been discussed with all relevant stakeholders in a national workshop in 2002 to elaborate the management planning procedures and technical tools. Other legislations under the Community Forestry Sub-Decree are being developed by the Community Forestry Unit involving all stakeholders.

COMMUNITY FORESTRY IMPLEMENTATION IN THE COUNTRY

Since 1990, 150 community forestry units have been established in 344 villages, 96 communes and 55 districts in 15 provinces to manage and use the forest resource sustainably. All these cover a forest area about 55 568 ha under the jurisdiction of the DFW/MAFF. The local communities have organized community forestry committees, formulated regulations and developed management plans, but some units have not completed all these processes. Government institutions, NGOs and some international agencies provided technical advice.

Although community forestry initiatives are expanding in the country, only one unit, that of Takeo Province has been recognized and approved by the DFW and MAFF; all the others have only received recognition from the Provincial Forestry Office (Table 3).

Figure 2. Community forestry initiative in Cambodia

Table 3. List of community forestry units in Cambodia

No.

Province

No. of districts

No. of communes

No. of CF units

Area (ha.)

Suporting organizations

Recognition from

1.

Siem Reap

11

25

35

11 529.7

FAO, IFAD ADESS, EPDO

PFO

2

Svay Rieng

2

4

1

1 704

Oxfam GB, CIDSE, CRS

PFO

3

Kampong Thom

3

3

12

5 035.5

GTZ/RDP

PFO

4

Preah Vihear

3

5

2

8 700

BPS, Oxfam GB

PFO

5

Banteay Meanchey

2

3

5

1 074

CARERE, IFAD

PFO

6

Battambang

6

6

17

3 950

ADESS, CARERE

PFO

7

Pursat

5

11

31

3 344.3

Seila, Ausaid, Concern, ADESS

PFO

8

Kampong Chhnang

3

9

13

848

Concern

PFO

9

Kampong Speu

2

4

4

438.5

Oxfam-American, Prasac II, LWS, GTZ

PFO

10

Koh Kong

2

2

2

3 254

CFRP, AFSC/SLP

PFO

11

Kam Pot

1

1

1

700.1

CFRP

PFO

12

Takeo

3

5

1

475.17

MCC

DFW/MAFF

13

Kratie

4

5

12

1 637.8

SMRP/CFRP

PFO

14

Mondulkiri

2

2

2

326

SMRP/CFRP

PFO

15

Ratanakiri

6

11

12

12 551

NTFP, CBNRM, IDRC/PLG/SEILA/UNDP

PFO


Total

55

96

150

55 568.07



Community forestry initiatives are still very much driven by international donor organizations, international and national NGOs, but recently communities are becoming more proactive, using direct approaches to address local problems. However, central level commitment expressed in policy documents has fallen short in practice (slack law enforcement), but commitments set from provincial authorities/governors remains crucial to the success of these initiatives. A comprehensive collection of information is available (e.g. case studies, reports, assessments), but so far there have been no conceptual synopsis that could be used for extension packages based on categories-uplands, lowlands and coastal zones. Community forestry has to take the needs of the resource users into consideration; therefore applied approaches/tools have to be flexible, realistic, practical, simple, independent and participatory.

POLICY AND LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR COMMUNITY FORESTRY

The government has framed policies such as the Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy and the National Economic Development Plan, where emphasis is given to sustainable management of natural resources for micro- and macrosocio-economic development of the country. More specific policies are the National Forest Sector Policy Statement (2002) and the Strategy of Land Policy Framework (2002).

The legal framework for community forestry is provided by the Constitution (1993), Environmental Protection and Natural Resource Management Law (1996), Royal Decree on Creation and Designation of Protected Areas (1993), Forest Concession Sub-decree (2000), Land Law (2001), Commune Administration Law (2001), Forestry Law (2002), and the Community Forestry Sub-decree (Draft). The legal framework recognizes decentralized forest management by communities and their customary rights to use forest resources. Yet it is still fragmented and inconsistent with conflicting statements in different legislatives. Unclear issues are taxation, benefit sharing, co-management, prakas needed for forest management planning, inventory procedures and approaches. The real commitment at the policy-making level is questionable, as the Community Forestry Subdecree elaborated with participation of all major stakeholders and based on common consensus has been revised significantly.

DECENTRALIZATION OF NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT AND LAND REGISTRATION

Decentralization efforts of the government related to natural resource management are supported by the SEILA Programme to integrate and mainstream natural resource and environmental management into general decentralized planning framework and to support a balanced socio-economic development process.

Emphasis is given to the strengthening of local structures and planning capacities (commune level) through intersectoral facilitation teams to integrate and address natural resource and environmental issues into their general planning process, based on experiences from CBNRM initiatives (e.g. Ratanakiri). The concept of land-use planning was introduced in 1999. Progress was also seen in the elaboration of a participatory land-use planning manual supported by SMRP/LMP. Support to the DLMUPC in organizing and conducting participatory land-use planning training for trainers has been initiated in ten provinces since 2002, but the implementation of such practices is still limited to two pilot provinces. Participatory land-use planning is essential to facilitate the process of land registration, resolve and avoid land conflicts, and facilitate participatory decisions on land uses as a basis for sustainable NRM. An eight-step approach gives guidance to local authorities, especially commune councils. The Land Management Project (LMP) supports land policy development, systematic land registration according to the Land Law, and development of guidelines and procedures.

COMMUNITY FORESTRY NETWORKS

Community Forestry Working Group (CFWG)

The CFWG, established in 1998, has been involved with relevant institutions, donors and interested organizations, and has held bimonthly meetings. The goal and objectives of this CFWG are as follows:

Goal

"To promote participatory processes among stakeholders in the management of forest resources as a means to contribute to decentralization, poverty reduction and sustainable forest management".

Objectives

Activities

To contribute to the development of policies and legislation for community forestry,

To increase awareness and understanding of community forestry among government stakeholders, civil society and rural populations,

To support research and documentation for community forestry in order to increase information on legal, technical, institutional, economic, social, cultural, and ecological aspects of community forestry,

To support the development of appropriate models and guidelines for community forestry management,

To provide a mechanism for dialogue and communication,

To improve collaboration between community forestry and broader natural resource management initiatives,

Figure 3. Structure of the community forestry working group

National Community Forestry Networking Meeting

The Cambodia Environment Management Project (CEMP) established the Community Forestry Network Meeting in Cambodia (CFNC) in 1993. When the CEMP was closed in 1997, the DFW/MAFF, MoE and Concern Worldwide continued to support and facilitate the CFNC. For some time there have been concerns over the ownership and future direction of the Community Forestry Network Meeting. Concern Worldwide and WWF organized the meeting with a range of stakeholders to discuss networking in CBNRM and map the existing networks and their relationships and several constraints and opportunities were identified. Following this meeting, there was a proposal that the network should have an organizing committee who would also have responsibility for the content of the Community Forestry Newsletter. This idea was presented at the Community Forestry Network Meeting and broad agreement was reached. The organizing committee has since met once and currently includes representatives from CFU/DFW/MAFF, MoE, WWF, Concern Worldwide, Oxfam GB and Mlup Baitong.

Objective of the CFNC: To share information and experiences among community forestry agencies, communities and NGOs regarding community forestry in Cambodia.

Ownership: The CFNC rotates every six months between the two departments, CFU/DFW/MAFF and MoE. These departments will take turns to be the chairman and treasurer.

Structure:

Organizing committee structure

CFNC structure

Designed activity framework of CFNC

Provincial Community Forestry Networking Meeting

Since the establishment of community forestry networking at national level, some provinces such as Pursat and Kampong Chhnang have also initiated to organize meetings at the provincial level. The provincial Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fishery plays the role of chairman and all organizations that are interested in community forestry activities (relevant institutions and representatives of community forestry committees in the provinces) are involved. The meetings are for exchanging and sharing information and also announcing new legislations and technical lessons learned from national or international meetings.

ISSUES-CONSTRAINTS TO COMMUNITY FORESTRY

Major conflicts

Of the conflicts encountered, 39 percent are of internal nature (amongst villagers/benefit sharing) and 40 percent are with outsiders. The conflicts take the following forms:

CONCLUSION

Community forestry is initiated and promoted by various international NGOs and donor agencies, national NGOs, local communities and the government. One hundred and fifty community forestry units covering a forest area of about 55 568 ha have been established involving local communities and diverse stakeholders. The incentives from the involvement of the local communities in community forest management plans relate to the commercial use of NTFPs for their livelihood which ensures that the forest is sustainable. The development of community forestry policy has involved multi-stakeholders and community forestry working groups and representatives of local communities.


[8] Department of Forestry and Wildlife, Phnon Penh, Cambodia; E-mail: dfwcf@online.com.kh
[9] Department of Forestry and Wildlife, Phnon Penh, Cambodia; E-mail: dfwcf@online.com.kh

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